A Test Iowa COVID-19 testing site will open in the UNI Student Health Center this week, expanding the university’s testing capacities as on-campus case counts rise.
On Sunday, UNI public relations manager Steve Schmadeke did not know the exact day this week when the site would open, but told the Northern Iowan in an email that the campus community will be notified when the site is fully operational.
Schmadeke also wrote that the site is intended for student, faculty and staff use only. It will remain open for the majority of winter break, although it will be closed for certain periods surrounding the holidays, when all university operations close.
Provost Jim Wohlpart believes the site will provide a “reprieve” for the campus’ “limited” testing ability, according to an email sent to UNI faculty on Friday.
“We are watching the numbers go up around the country, the state, and in our county. And the numbers are going up on our campus because we all go out in public at some point,” he wrote. “Our positivity rate is going to increase, partly because we have more positive cases, and partly because our testing ability is limited.”
However, Schmadeke clarified that this limitation has not been due to a lack of tests or appointment slots, but rather the result of the center’s testing criteria.
The Student Health Center follows the testing criteria outlined by the Iowa Department of Public Health, which require students to either be showing symptoms and not have another diagnosis or have spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone with a positive test.
“The reason we added Test Iowa is because their testing criteria is broader than the Iowa Department of Public Health which will allow us to test more people,” Schmadeke wrote. “We have sufficient tests and appointments available.”
Once the Test Iowa site opens, Schmadeke wrote, students, faculty and staff will still contact the Student Health Center for testing in the same manner as they do now: calling the Student Health Clinic COVID-19 hotline at 319-273-2100 between 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. They will then be screened according to IDPH criteria.
“If during the screening with the nurses it is indicated that they will not qualify for a test (under IDPH criteria), we will encourage them to use the UNI Test Iowa survey,” Schmadeke wrote. “There will be an icon added to the SHC website if you complete the survey and receive a QR code which will then instruct you to call the SHC to schedule a (Test Iowa) appointment.”
Test Iowa numbers from the UNI site will be reported as part of the Student Health Center numbers in the weekly university COVID-19 update.